What Skills Do ChemE Employers Look For?

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Dr. John Chen, a retired faculty member of Lehigh University, interviewed Dr. Rui Cruz of Dow Chemical, Dr. Ashok Krishna of Chevron, and Dr. Steve Poehlein, formerly of Merck. The panel discussed the traits and skills they look for in new hires, as well as opportunities in their fields for young chemical engineers. These questions focus on some of the main areas covered in the Annual Meeting's Plenary session this morning in San Francisco. Check out the video.

What skills do wish your engineering program developed better?

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Asad Sahir's picture

I thank the panelists in putting forth their views on skills which ChemE employers are looking for. In my personal opinion, academic departments may have a potential opportunity to initiate a conversation among them on relating the skills required by employers; and reanalyzing current academic practices. This is a very timely question, as emerging technical challenges are reshaping ChE workforce requirements. Some of the questions which might be considered, as an outcome of this conversation could be: •How can ChE departments encourage students to consider global research opportunities through the Study Abroad program existing at their home institutions? •How mechanisms could be evolved to encourage students to become members of professional societies; where they could learn from professionals the necessity to develop “solid technical skills” to solve complex problems? •Is there a possibility to increase interaction in the undergraduate student seminar; which helps foster a learning environment encouraging a spirit of scientific enquiry and promote professional development?. It may help in enhancing communication skills encouraging articulation of ideas. •How can laboratory courses and classroom exercises be utilized to enhance “peer-to-peer” learning? •How can the expertise of the department alumni be leveraged to inform students on the necessity of skill development? •Should undergraduate students be teamed up with graduate research students through projects or laboratories; which helps them to appreciate the complex problems requiring application of fundamentals? These ideas are currently being pursued by various academic institutions throughout the world; and their outcome directly relates to the skill sets required by ChemE employers to solve challenging problems. My thought on the topic is whether there is scope to leverage these opportunities more effectively through the resources provided and limitations of the current academic system. Can we do better?